The temperature is falling, the nights are drawing in and up and down the country, old rivalries are being reignited. Football is back and the arguments have begun. Who is going to win what trophy, who will win the league? Who will win the Ballon d'Or? And who is going to be crowned King of Europe?
The failures and disappointments of last season are now distant memories The new season has begun and it is time to dream again. For some this year will bring glory for others only tears.
Like many of you, I have spent the majority of the last 50 years playing football, talking football, and dreaming about it. In this article, I am going to tell you who I think will be smiling and who will be crying at the end of the season. Who's going win the Premier League (EPL) and who is going to be relegated? Who will be the top scorer and which team will be Champions of Europe? I will also try and identify the diamond in the rough, that player you don't know yet but by the end of the season will be a household name. So who are going to be the winners and who are going to be the losers?
Winners of the English Premier League (EPL) 2020-2021? Liverpool. Last season's champions and my pick to come out on top again this year. Why? Well, they won the EPL by 18 points and could have won by more if they hadn't taken their collective foot off the pedal once the title was secured.
If you want to win in the Premier League you can't afford to stand still and Liverpool have now made three outstanding additions to their team; Thiago, Jota and Tsimikas. All are great players but Thiago stands out. He is truly exceptional. Last season he won the Champions League and the German League with Bayern Munich. With these three purchases, Liverpool has tightened their grip on top spot by widening the gap between themselves and their Premier League rivals.
Little known fact: If you've ever wondered how Liverpool manage to buy the right player at the right time (well apart from having a brilliant manager Jugen Klopp - a subjective view, but then isn't everything in football) the secret is out! Mathematics, yep that's right, according to an article in the New York Times Liverpool Football Club uses a mathematical model to determine the type of player it needs, the type of player that will fit into the Liverpool culture.
2nd Place in the Premier League? Tottenham Hotspurs. For me 6th place last season becomes 2nd place this season. The bad luck of 2019/2020 (their best three players Kane, Son and Sissoko sustained significant long term injuries that kept them out for over ten weeks each) is behind them and Jose Mourinho has done the business this summer. Matt Doherty from Wolves adding pace at right-back, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's from Southampton adds a little steel in midfield, whilst the return of Gareth Bale from Real Madrid adds additional star quality at that every team can benefit from. With both Harry Kane and Gareth Bale in harness I expect them to do very well.
3rd Place in the Premier League? Man City. One of the biggest spending clubs of the last decade and on their day one of the best teams in the world. Pep Guardiola isn't taking last season's Premier League 2nd place lying down and has splashed some cash this summer, shoring up their defence with Nathan Ake's early £40m purchase from Bournemouth. Despite this, I still think they will drop a place. I don't feel Nathan Ake on his own is enough to resolve their defensive frailties, add to this the loss of a key player like the brilliant David Silva and loss of their assistant manager Arteta and I hope you begin to see why I don't think this is going to be their year. In my book, Man City's form slumped and Arsenals improved when Arteta swapped clubs is not a coincidence. Is Arteta the tactical genius behind City’s form?
4th Place in the Premier League. Arsenal - The Gunners could be on for their best season since Wenger left and the reason in my view is simple Arteta. Since his takeover Arsenal has won the FA Cup and the Charity Shield. In addition, they've had significant victories against Man City and Liverpool. Their young and impressive team has been strengthened during the summer by the addition of central defenders William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes whilst Dani Ceballos has returned on loan to complement a squad rich with young, eager to impress talent.
Top Scorer in the Premier League 2020/2021? Danny Ings (Southampton FC). He looked sharp last season and had it not been for a bit of misfortune, I believe he would have won the Golden Boot. He now has a key striker to play alongside him and is part of a very hard-working team with a great forward-thinking manager.
Tears before bedtime! The 3 teams who will be regulated from the EPL - Leeds United, West Brom, Fulham. I'm sorry I know they've just been promoted and Leeds is one of the sleeping giants of UK football but I cannot see three worse teams currently in the EPL Premier League.
There is a chasm in quality between the Premier League and the Championship from where Leeds, West Brom and Fulham have been promoted. The odds are already heavily stacked against these three teams and I do not feel they have purchased significant quality to survive in the Premier League.
Winners of the Champions League: Paris Saint-Germain PSG (France). PSG was very unlucky in the last Champions League Final, they lost narrowly 1-0 to Bayern Munich. They had clear chances to score before and after Bayern scored. They are backed by a wealthy owner and so I expect them to strengthen their team and be back at the final next year.
The diamond in the rough: Che Adams (Southampton)
Che has all the ingredients to be a major player in the EPL. He has strength, speed, tenacity and bravery. He is also very intelligent. He had a tough time in front of goal last season but towards the end appeared to make a break-through and started to score freely. It was his first season in the EPL and a lot of credit must be given to his manager who continued to play him when he was struggling in front of goal. I saw things in his game which makes me believe he is going to take the EPL by storm this season.
Do you agree with my choices?
What are your predictions for the forthcoming season?
Authors: The football pundit and JamesG